Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘marking

I would like to critique this move fairly, but I cannot as the rest of the article is behind a paywall.

However, the SEAB has a track record of siding with caution. It moves so slowly, if at all, that molasses in a jar looks like speed demon.

Article screenshot: More trials before switch to electronic marking of exam scripts.

The SEAB seems to favour changing the medium and not the method, and as a result, not change at all.

This example of electronic marking would presume electronic test-taking were simple transitions from paper to screens. This is what happened with early e-books. Going electronic in this manner did (and does) not take advantage of hyperlinking, searching, and collaborating.

To push the boundaries where they need to be, the method must also change. The test should not just be about individual accountability, but also about the ability to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate. The challenge should not just be about low level thinking, but about contextual application, evaluation, and creation.

The superficial change in medium and not the method reveals this: The SEAB is neither prepared (state of mind) nor ready (state of being) to design and implement meaningful change. It is about jogging on the same spot to create the impression of work, but not move in any particular direction.

“News” broke recently of software that helped to “grade” student essays in some schools in Singapore. Here is one source that you don’t have to pay for to read about the use of WriteToLearn and Criterion.

I call it “news” because the software has been at least 10 years in the making and because the headline (Hey, the computer gave me an A for my essay) is sensationalist.

It might be news to some, but technology that is ten-years-old cannot be described, as it was in the article, in its infancy.

The headline is designed to give the impression that computers are taking over. Why not, right? After all, Watson, IBM’s latest AI has beaten human champions over the last three days in the gameshow, Jeopardy.

While some might be wondering when we are going to bow to our technology overlords, at the moment technology like WriteToLearn and Criterion are still just tools. We use them, not the other way around.

Those writing tools are great at doing what people cannot do: Using tireless brute force to analyze an essay with rules and provide recommendations more quickly than a teacher can for the learner. They are not designed to replace the teacher. Not yet anyway.

Two unoriginal thoughts came to my mind:

  • Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer deserves to be. Depending on your search, that quote might be attributed to David Thornburg or Arthur C Clarke.
  • The essence of being human involves asking questions, not answering them. I think that quote came from John Seely Brown (at the end of this NYT article).

We may have a finite capacity to hold knowledge. But we have an infinite capacity to wonder and create.


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